Cost of living crisis: Why you should review your budget and plans

The cost of living is rising. Reviewing your finances now is crucial for understanding what effect inflation could have on your lifestyle and long-term plans.

Inflation is at the highest level it’s been in 40 years. In the 12 months to July 2022, it was 10.1%. It’s the first time price rises are in double digits since February 1982.

There are several factors contributing to rising inflation, including the conflict in Ukraine, which has disrupted energy and food supplies.

Energy bills are set to become one of the largest outgoings for families. Several increases to the energy price cap, which is set by Ofgem, mean the cost of energy has already soared. The price cap will increase again in October and the average home’s energy bill will reach £3,549 a year. This represents an 80% increase in the average energy bill.

It’s expected that the price cap will rise further in January 2023.

Rising inflation means now is the ideal time to review your budget

Keeping track of your finances during the cost of living crisis is crucial.

In the short term, you should review your budget. Can your budget absorb the higher costs or do you need to make lifestyle changes?

The Bank of England expects inflation to peak at around 13%. It’s also said it doesn’t expect the rate to fall to its target of 2% for several years.

So, you should look at what that means for you in the coming years. Will rising energy prices mean you need to be more mindful of energy use or cut back expenses in other areas?

While the headline inflation figure can give you an idea of how prices are changing, your personal inflation rate may be very different. If you commute long distances, for instance, the steep rise in fuel costs may mean your outgoings rise more than you expect.

Going through your budget and calculating how your regular costs have changed in the last year can help you better manage your finances.

In some cases, you may decide to draw on savings or other assets to bridge a gap if your expenses rise. You should ensure this is sustainable.

The steps you take could affect your long-term plans

While it’s important to focus on how the cost of living crisis is affecting your finances now, don’t forget to consider the long-term effects too.

Decisions you make now could affect your income and financial security for years to come.

If you’re using assets to create an income, such as your pension, you need to be aware of how increased withdrawals may affect you. Could taking a higher income from your pension now to cover costs mean that you deplete your savings faster than you expect? If so, it could mean you face an income shortfall later in life.

Research also suggests that some people are cutting back outgoings that could improve long-term financial security.

According to Canada Life, 5% of adults have already stopped contributing to their workplace pension due to budget pressures. A further 6% are actively thinking about pausing their pension contributions.

While pausing contributions for a few months may seem like it will have little effect on your retirement, it can be larger than you think. The power of compounding means that pausing pension contributions for just a year could reduce the value of your pension at retirement by 4%.

It’s not just stopping pension contributions that could affect your long-term plans. Things like reducing how much you add to your savings account or investment portfolio could affect whether you can reach your goals in the future, whether that’s to support children through university or retire early.

Contact us to review your finances

Amid the current economic uncertainty, reviewing your financial plan can give you peace of mind and confidence. We’ll help you understand how your current budget has been affected and the steps you can take now to create long-term financial security.

Please contact us to arrange a meeting to discuss your goals and the effect the cost of living crisis could have.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

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